By Ahunt Phone Myat
Attempts by a candidate of a newly-formed political party in Burma to ensure opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi does not compete in looming by-elections have failed.
The country’s election body rejected proposals from Tin Yi that the Nobel laureate should be blocked from a parliamentary bid and instead confirmed her as a candidate.
The Unity and Peace Party (UPP) candidate, who is running against Suu Kyi in Kawhmu constituency, claimed earlier this month that she had received international funding and had contravened an election law that bans anyone who is “entitled to enjoy the rights and privileges of a subject of a foreign government or a citizen of a foreign country” from running for parliament.
But in a rare siding with the opposition, the government-backed Union Election Commission (UEC) threw the complaint out. Nyan Win, spokesperson for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), said that the district UEC subsequently gave her the official nod for the polls.
The case has sparked tension among a 10-member bloc of parties that includes the UPP and the National Democratic Force (NDF), which was formed by senior NLD members aggrieved at the party’s boycott of the 2010 elections.
Khin Maung Swe, leader of the NDF, was quick to distance himself from the complaint. “The protest of a candidate of a party which is among our 10 parties makes us feel very uncomfortable,” he said. “We have issued a statement so that the public knows the NDF doesn’t share this view.”
Tin Yi however is due to lodge an appeal with the UEC. According to the Myanmar Times, the official list of candidates competing in Kawhmu, a township south of Rangoon, will not be released until the appeal is decided upon.
Parties are campaigning for 48 seats vacated when MPs took up positions in the cabinet shortly after the new government came to power.
Already however there have been several accusations of attempted sabotage, including the bizarre incident in which universities in two towns – Pathein and Mandalay – demanded students sit exams with little notice on the same days that San Suu Kyi was due to visit to rally support.
Officials also blocked the 66-year-old from speaking at the Pyarpon town football stadium in Irrawaddy division last week, and forced her to move to a less prominent location.
Shwe Mann, the powerful parliamentary speaker and third-in-command in the former junta, has already pledged however that the April polls will be free and fair.